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Question
Posted by: Bone weary! | 2019/01/15

End of life

My 85 year-old father has Emphysema, COPD and is also an asthma sufferer. He has been very ill at times over the past year, in and out of hospital for a month at the end of last year. At times he is abusive and aggressive and at other times teary and emotional. He revisits the past often and gets very emotional when talking about his deceased father and siblings. He often says he wants to "go to them" and "he is tired and has had enough". He is quite ill at the moment again, he has a fluid retention problem which causes his legs and abdomen to swell and it affects his breathing, which is already laboured due to the Emphysema, COPD and asthma. Recently I find myself thinking that he will be better off dead as he is just suffering, he has no quality of life. He lives with us and I often dread going home after work. I feel as though I am under house arrest as I cannot go anywhere over weekends as someone must always be with him. I guess you are probably thinking why he is not in a home. Well, besides the lengthy waiting list at some of the better facilities, the costs are exorbitant at others which do not have a waiting list. Is it normal to think that he will be better off dead and actually wish that the doctor will admit him just so that I can have a break? My sister takes care of him during the day, when I get home at night he is often tired and extremely irritable. Please just some advice, no nasty comments from readers. Thanks!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2019/01/16

Dear Bone,
Sadly, I am familiar with this sort of tragic situation. Years ago, I became involved in the development of ways to help, which at first focused on cancer patients, and so we developed Hospice care. And out of that the new specialty of Palliative Medicine, or Palliative Care.  This focused on  developing ways to relieve pain and all other serious symptoms, such as breathlessness.  They may be able to help him directly, and to advise the doctors caring for his current problem.
So it may well be useful for you to contact your nearest Hospice program for advice and help.  They may even be able to admit him for a short while to fully assess him and find potential remedies to relieve his suffering. And yours, of course,  because people too often fail to recognize the suffering of relatives an caregivers trying to help in such circumstances.  They will also have experienced counselors able to help you and your father.
Within hospice and palliative care, what you ask for is also well recognized as important : it's called Respite Care, including admitting a patient for a week or so to tidy up their care plans, and to enable the family caregivers to have a short rest and to care for themselves.
Sometimes some of the problems can be caused or worsened by side-effect of some needed med being given for good reasons, but varying the specific med, or doses and times, may relieve such problems.  For instance, some meds may cause irritability, or confusion, as a side-effect.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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